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Wide As the Waters

The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution

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Description

Next to the Bible itself, the English Bible was -- and is -- the most influential book ever published. The most famous of all English Bibles, the King James Version, was the culmination of centuries of work by various translators, from John Wycliffe, the fourteenth-century catalyst of English Bible translation, to the committee of scholars who collaborated on the King James translation. Wide as the Waters examines the life and work of Wycliffe and recounts the tribulations of his successors, including William Tyndale, who was martyred, Miles Coverdale, and others who came to bitter ends. It traces the story of the English Bible through the tumultuous reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor, and Elizabeth I, a time of fierce contest between Catholics and Protes-tants in England, as the struggle to establish a vernacular Bible was fought among competing factions. In the course of that struggle, Sir Thomas More, later made a Catholic saint, helped orchestrate the assault on the English Bible, only to find his own true faith the plaything of his king.

In 1604, a committee of fifty-four scholars, the flower of Oxford and Cambridge, collaborated on the new translation for King James. Their collective expertise in biblical languages and related fields has probably never been matched, and the translation they produced -- substantially based on the earlier work of Wycliffe, Tyndale, and others -- would shape English literature and speech for centuries. As the great English historian Macaulay wrote of their version, "If everything else in our language should perish, it alone would suffice to show the extent of its beauty and power." To this day its common expressions, such as "labor of love," "lick the dust," "a thorn in the flesh," "the root of all evil," "the fat of the land," "the sweat of thy brow," "to cast pearls before swine," and "the shadow of death," are heard in everyday speech.

The impact of the English Bible on law and society was profound. It gave every literate person access to the sacred text, which helped to foster the spirit of inquiry through reading and reflection. This, in turn, accelerated the growth of commercial printing and the proliferation of books. Once people were free to interpret the word of God according to the light of their own understanding, they began to question the authority of their inherited institutions, both religious and secular. This led to reformation within the Church, and to the rise of constitutional government in England and the end of the divine right of kings. England fought a Civil War in the light (and shadow) of such concepts, and by them confirmed the Glorious Revolution of 1688. In time, the new world of ideas that the English Bible helped inspire spread across the Atlantic to America, and eventually, like Wycliffe's sea-borne scattered ashes, all the world over, "as wide as the waters be."

Wide as the Waters is a story about a crucial epoch in the history of Christianity, about the English language and society, and about a book that changed the course of human events.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 19, 2001 – Independent scholar Bobrick's (Angel in the Whirlwind; etc.) erudite yet accessible history chronicles the turbulent period from the first English translation of the Bible, sponsored by John Wycliffe in 1382, to the King James Version in 1611. Rendering the Scriptures in the vernacular was an act fraught with peril, he reminds readers. Simply possessing a Wycliffe Bible was enough to get a layperson tried for heresy. William Tyndale, whose early-16th-century renderings of the New Testament and Pentateuch greatly influenced the King James translators, saw his work confiscated and destroyed by English ecclesiastical authorities; he was burned at the stake in 1536. Though Henry VIII's break from Rome prompted more English versions in the late 16th century, conservatives still feared that giving the common people access to the Scriptures would lead to civic as well as religious unrest; eventually, the Civil War of 1642 1649 suggested they were right. Succeeding Elizabeth in 1603, James I aimed to consolidate his position as head of church and state with a new Bible that would take the best from all previous English versions and maintain the Anglo-Catholic terms (such as "church" rather than the more Puritan "congregation") favored by the Bishop's Bible of 1568. Bobrick offers cogent minibiographies of the remarkable team of scholars James assembled, and his lucid exegeses show how seemingly small changes (from "the earth was void and empty" into "the earth was without form and void") transformed the text, rendering it majestic yet easily understandable. Bobrick's analysis of how dissemination of the Bible helped spark the Civil War is oversimplified, but historians have long agreed that putting the Scriptures in the hands of the people was indeed a revolutionary act. It's a pleasure to have this stirring story so well told for the general reader.
Wide As the Waters
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  • $3.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: World
  • Published: Jul 19, 2011
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Seller: SIMON AND SCHUSTER DIGITAL SALES INC
  • Print Length: 384 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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